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We will remember them: Remembrance Day marked across the County

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,” read Diane Kennedy, Royal Canadian Legion, branch 78 president.

The Remembrance Day ceremony held at the cenotaph in Picton was one of three held across Prince Edward County Saturday, marking the importance of what the eleventh hour of the eleventh day on the eleventh month signifies.

Remembrance Day services are held every November 11 to honour those fallen soldiers who served not just in the First or Second World Wars, but other significant wars and conflicts around the world. It is a day to remember and honour all veterans, wherever they may have served, and for as long as they may have served, those still living, but especially those who have passed.

The usual format for the ceremony included the Last Post played by a bugler, where two minutes of silence ensued, followed by the Lament.

“We remember and thank everyone who sacrificed as part of the Canadian Armed Forces or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who have led to our freedom today,” said Kennedy who conducted the ceremony, with assistance from Tom McCaw, also with branch 78.

“During this period, we also honour those who served our country in areas of conflict, those taking part in operations to maintain peace, and those serving humanitarian missions.”

The damp, still morning ensured a chill hung in the overcast November air as many members of the public, Royal Canadian Legion branch members, cadets, families, neighbours, friends, dignitaries and veterans took the time to remember, to contemplate, and to reflect on the meaning of this particular day, each in their own individual way.

Mayor Steve Ferguson, MPP Todd Smith with Ret.-Col. John Inrig

County mayor Steve Ferguson was in attendance, along with Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith and Heather Williams, representing Bay of Quinte MP Ryan Williams.

“We are also proud to have 8MS Squadron with us today,” Kennedy said.

While a few wreaths had been laid ahead of time, a number of wreaths were placed around the cenotaph after the ceremony was complete. They began with the Government of Canada (placed by Williams), Province of Ontario (Smith), the County of Prince Edward (Ferguson), and for the Hastings Prince Edward Regiment, Ret.-Col. John Inrig.

Some of the numerous wreaths placed included Korean Veterans, Navy Veterans Merchant Marine, the Nursing Sisters of World War II, First Canadian Guards, Afghan Veterans, 8 Wing, 851 Air Cadets, Royal Canadian Legion branch 78, Royal Canadian Ladies Auxiliary and Salvation Army.

Mayor Ferguson noted the “glorious turnout” for the ceremony as he spoke to what Remembrance Day means.

“November 11, Remembrance Day, is a day Canadians remember the brave men and women who have served our country during times of war, conflict and peace. It is also a day to think of those who continue to serve our country, particularly as events unfold elsewhere in the world,” said Ferguson.

“At 11 a.m., we use the moment of silence to remember those who volunteered, served, fought and died for our freedom: we thank them, and we shall always remember them with an immeasurable debt of gratitude for helping make our country free and prosperous, and we wear our poppies with pride to honour them. “

Kennedy noted the legion supports veterans and their widows in the County, the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital, Hospice Prince Edward, Air Cadets, women’s shelter as well as local schools, and anyone in the community who needs assistance, where she said all donations made to the poppy fund campaign are all raised and spent locally.

“For over 100 years, we have donned our poppies and observed two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

“And for those who have fought for our country, let us continue to honour this important tradition, and never take for granted the sacrifices the service members and their families have made for our freedom: we will ever be in their debt, and we will never forget you.”

Other wreaths included those placed by the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation, Community Care for Seniors, Kiwanis Club, Prince Edward Masons, Prince Edward District Women’s Institute, Glenwood Cemetery, and Picton Elks, among the many businesses, organizations and groups, as well as by many individuals.

Padre Brian Nicholson said a prayer,” We give you hearty praise and thanks great God for all that makes our common life secure… for respect for our fellow humans, and the humility that leads us to draw on your strength”.

“We thank you for this land in which we dwell, and for the high price that has been paid to keep her free,” said Nicholson.

He also read a poem written by 14-year-old Joshua Dyer in 2019, where he said the boy was asked to write a poem on Remembrance Day, something he wasn’t happy about, but he put pen to paper and came up with One Thousand Men Are Walking.

“Just an incredible poem, and certainly a way that different generations of people can still remember, and newer generations can remember also,” Nicholson said.

One Thousand Men Are Walking
By Joshua Dyer, age 14 (2019)

One thousand men are walking
Walking side by side
Singing songs from home
The spirit as their guide
they walk toward the light milord
they walk towards the sun
they smoke and laugh and smile together
no foes to outrun
these men live on forever
in the hearts of those they saved
a nation truly grateful
for the path of peace they paved
they march as friends and comrades
but they do not march for war
step closer to salvation
a tranquil steady corps
the meadows lit with golden beams
a beacon for the brave
the emerald grass untrampled
a reward for what they gave
they dream of those they left behind
and know they dream of them
forever in those poppy fields
there walks one thousand men

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